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Car crashes into businesses causing massive fire


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    ATLANTA (WGCL) — Officials have identified the driver who is now in custody following a vehicle pursuit that resulted in destruction impacting buildings at a strip mall around 4 a.m. on Friday.

Atlanta firefighters worked to put out the massive fire. Several businesses were destroyed during the early morning blaze on Piedmont Road near Cheshire Bridge Road.

The driver involved has been identified as Theodore Merchant, 21, of Virginia Beach.

The fire started when his car crashed into a building after a police chase, according to a fire spokesperson.

Merchant was rushed to an area hospital and is in stable condition.

According to Georgia State Patrol (GSP), the preliminary investigation reveals a Trooper saw a white Porsche speeding on I-75/I-85 North at the split.

Law enforcement said Merchant was driving 105 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.

The trooper caught up to the car as it exited onto Buford Highway and attempted to pull Merchant over, said authorities.

CBS46 News learned Merchant fled north on Buford Highway, right on Lenox, and south on Cheshire Bridge Road.

At the intersection of Cheshire Bridge and Piedmont Circle, the driver continued straight across the intersection, running over a raised concrete island before leaving the roadway.

Merchant struck into a row of buildings, said a GSP spokesperson.

Merchant’s car was on fire, and the fire grew rapidly.

There were no other passengers in the car.

Firefighters responded to the scene, but the building became fully engulfed before their arrival.

CBS46’s Chopper was over scene surveying the damage to a Papa John’s Pizza and Supercuts.

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Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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